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Active Story System - design methodology for transmedia storytelling

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Design methodology for creating participatory transmedia stories. For $1.25 you can buy an interactive PDF of the worksheets shown in this presentation. This allows you to complete the fields for your own projects and print. Here's the link:

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Active Story System - design methodology for transmedia storytelling

  1. 1. The worksheets in this presentation are now available for download as an interactive PDF. This allows you to add your own project information, print and share. Download via GumRoad https://gumroad.com/l/uLZe
  2. 2.  Active Story System™ has been developed to service the needs of the creative & advertising industries in an era of attention scarcity, content abundance and multi-platform consumption  a design process for creating participatory multi-platform story-experiences  a framework for commercial success that:  is goal-oriented  integrates storytelling, engagement, social media & content strategy  a series of documentation templates & worksheets
  3. 3.  Distinguishes storyworld design decisions from individual story design decisions  Combines/integrates entertainment and marketing decisions  Provides visibility of story structure and logic to navigate it  Provides visibility of character development and player advancement  Provides documentation templates and a series of worksheets to encourage structured thinking and fewer design decision mistakes  Offers a practical organizational framework for the delivery of persistent storyworlds
  4. 4. Definition • Requirements • Goals • Success Criteria •KPIs, measurement • Scope •Countries, Territories, Languages, Number of Audience •Interworking with other companies & technologies •Timing & duration •Budget • Customer Development • ActSS Define the World •Story, Experience, Premise, Goals, Audience, Platforms, Execution • One Sheet • Title, log line, call to action, short synopsis • Creative direction • look & feel, tone, mood, age rating, violence, language • Team • Risks • Principal resources • names and availability • Principal creative • Principal technical development • Inbound: Licensing & copyrights • Outbound: Franchising, merchandising and licensing • Community • management, editorial, legal • Business Case Design • ActSS Define the story •Premise, Themes, Characters, Locations, Periods, Objects, Factions, Hierarchies • ActSS Define the Experience •Gaming, Role-playing, Exploring, Observing • ActSS Define the Execution •Timing, Events, Platforms, Pacing • ActSS Write Synopsis • ActSS Develop Synopsis into Scenes • ActSS Design the Engagement • ActSS Design Interaction • Platform-specific documentation • Marketing Communications • Series synopsis & arcs • Future stories • Media assets •Video, audio, image, text, mobile, web • Events & locations • Merchandise • Touchpoints •Owned, Paid, Earned • Languages, countries, geo- restrictions • Capacity planning • Controls Delivery •ActSS Design Operations •Editorial & Legal processes, Social media guidelines, Community management, Escalation •Production •Implementation & testing • Audience building & community outreach •Marketing communications • Advertising, SEO, paid Search, Seeding, PR, Social media •Launch •Operations •Metrics
  5. 5.  The Active Story System™ takes a deep dive into every design aspect of the experience. The author* then loops back to add detail and address practicalities and project delivery issues *Author = anyone creating the transmedia project (storteller/narrative designer/producer etc.)
  6. 6. Define the World • Story • Experience • Audience • Platforms • Goal1 • Execution Define the Story • Premise • Themes • Characters • Locations • Periods • Objects • Factions • Hierarchies Define the Experiences • Goals • Gaming2 • Role-playing2 • Exploring2 • Observing2 Define the Execution • Timing • Events • Platforms • Pacing
  7. 7. 5. Write synopsis •Premise •Themes •Characters •Conflict 6. Develop Synopsis into Scenes •Information revealed •Character development •Audience quests 7. Design the Engagement •Personalization •Actions •Teams •Pacing •Motivations •Immersion 7. Design the Engagement •Personalization •Actions •Teams •Pacing •Motivations •Immersion 6. Develop Engagement into Scenes •Information revealed •Audience quests •Character development 5. Write synopsis •Premise •Themes •Characters •Conflict 8. Design the Interaction •Platforms •Media •Out-of-World •In-World •Block diagrams •User Journey • platforms •phases 9. Design the Operations •Editorial process •Legal process •Social media guidelines •Community management •Escalation •Metrics
  8. 8.  World Definition Worksheet  Story Worksheet  Experience Worksheet  Execution Chart  Additional Storyworld Documentation  Story bible  Participation bible
  9. 9. y Describe the project in a few sentences Why this project and why now? What’s the objective of the project? Reach, Preference, Action? What’s the revenue model – does there need to be one? How will success be recognized? How will the experience be measured – what’s the key performance indicators? Expected size of audience, Countries, Territories, Languages Identify possible risks to budget , quality and time such as technological developments and interworking, How will you achieve your goals? What money and other resources are available? What are the key milestones and deadlines?
  10. 10. y Describe the story in a few sentences Describe the audience experience in a few sentences Who is the audience for this storyworld? What are the primary platforms? What’s the objective of the project? Reach, Preference, Action? What’s the revenue model – does there need to be one? What’s the roll-out plan? What is the message the writer wants to convey? What does she/he believe to be true?
  11. 11. Copy and paste Story from the previous slide Copy and paste Experience from the previous slide What is the message the writer wants to convey? What does she/he believe to be true? What themes are explored? Who are the main characters? What are the main locations? Thinking of the storyworld timeline, what are the significant periods? Significant plot points/turning points/reversals? What are the significant or iconic objects in this storyworld? (e.g. rings, goblets, sonic screwdrivers, Martini cocktails?) What are the main rivalries or tribes or sects? NB: this can help the audience identify and choose a group to belong to What levels and ranks are there within the factions? NB: this can be useful for community forums and games where people can “level up” depending on activity or success.
  12. 12. Copy and paste Premise from the previous slide Copy and paste Themes from the previous slide In this participation type, what (moral) choices might the audience be given to make them feel the premise? In this participation type, what information or questions might the audience be given to make them think about and reflect on the premise? In this participation type, what additional information (in world and out of world) can the audience explore? In this participation type, the audience creates their own entertainment from the tools, apps, media, props (physical and digital) etc and advice you’ve given them. How will you enable the audience to role-play and create their own entertainment? What are the creative and commercial goals of the audience participation? Use separate Intrinsic Motivations worksheet as frequently as necessary: for the world and/or for each story-experience
  13. 13. Online Story-Experience B Story-Experience C Story-Experience A Story-Experience E Real World Story-Experience F Story-Experience G Story-Experience H Story-Experience D Story GamingCo-creation Real-world Immersion Radar Primary platform
  14. 14. Online Psychophol experience Wastelander experience Web series Tarot Cards Real World Event: Festival Screening Mobile app DVD release Feature film Story GamingCo-creation Real-world Immersion Radar
  15. 15. Storyworld Bible Participation Bible
  16. 16.  Goals (commercial & creative objectives)  Policy (for treating fans consistent with company core values)  In world (Storytelling)  Gaming/Role-playing/Observing/Exploring  Platforms  Events  Timing  Out of World (Policy)  Social media policy (communication style, crisis management)  Community policy (rewards, highlighting, banning, legal action)  Editorial policy for fan-generated content (encouraged, allowed, ignored, removed)  Legal policy  Escalation procedures
  17. 17.  Immersion Worksheet  Motivations Worksheet  Participation Worksheet  Interaction Worksheet  Scene Chart  Character Steps  User Journey  System/block diagram  Content/Data map  Operations Worksheet
  18. 18. Importance of narrative, depth of world & degree of authorial control. Addresses emotional presence: player feels as they might in real life experiencing real world events. Refer to other worksheets that discuss story. Extent to which story-experience pervades real locations & times, real people & events. Addresses physical presence: player feels physically transported to storyworld environment. Describe physical locations & entities or how this experience pervades real life. Ability of audience to change or contribute to the story or experience. Addresses narrative presence: player feels able to affect the story. Describe means by which audience directs, influences or improves upon the story. Audience has goal, use of puzzles, use of game mechanics (trophies, levels, leader boards etc.); activity purely for enjoyment & fun. Describe the game mechanics if appropriate.
  19. 19. How will the audience be surprised? How does the experience offer variety and comfort? How much freedom does the audience have to explore, to determine timing & outcomes, to personalize their persona/experience? How will the audience perceive a feeling of accomplishment? Will they gain a new insight or understanding? Will they have gained a new skill or improved existing skills? How does the audience build relationships with others and/or with the characters? How does the audience gain bragging rights, self-importance or self-affirmation? How is the audience made to feel unique & valued? Are there leaderboards, badges, membership levels?
  20. 20. Copy and paste Premise from the previous slides What must the audience achieve? What’s the call to action? Is this action: meaningful, thought-provoking, confirms the premise, allows personalization, generates conversation, hits as many intrinsic motivations as possible? Is this action: meaningful, thought-provoking, relevant to the premise, allows personalization, generates conversation, hits as many intrinsic motivations as possible? What characters are needed? Roles: Hero - the character who plays the game; Mentor -the character that offers advice and useful items Assistant - a character who offers occasional tips; Tutor - a character who explains how to play the game; Final Boss - the villain the player must defeat in the last battle; Hostage - a character to rescue. What audience actions are taken alone and in private What audience actions are taken in public and shared with or discussed with the community What audience actions are taken in competition with others or with a character What audience actions are take in collaboration with others or with a character Is the personalization relevant to the storyworld? Allow audience to join a Faction or vary according to Hierarchy? Generate word of mouth? Generate repeat play? Does the pacing of the experience match the pacing of the narrative?
  21. 21. How do new audience members enter the system? What’s the process for them to indentify themselves to the characters? How & when are they called to action (activated)? Create a chart for the “user journey”? What platforms are being used for this story? What media do we need? Rich media and text based. Where does the audience cross the threshold from reality to fiction? What are the calls to action? What are the out-of-world websites, social media, objects, locations, events? What are the fictional entry points for this story? What are the calls to action? What are the in-world websites, social media, objects, locations, events?
  22. 22.  Show how the story moves forward scene-by-scene. What information or state change causes audience experience of the story to progress? What new information does the audience gain?  Note: specific platforms may or may not be mentioned
  23. 23.  Show how the characters (perhaps player-character) changes as experience progresses
  24. 24.  Show character relationships and key character data
  25. 25.  Show possible path(s) taken by audience to access story/experience  Show relationship between platforms over time
  26. 26.  Transmedia stories (ought to) tend towards a mesh or network of information points rather than simple linear path  an “open story”  Open stories best described by states rather than paths and hence user journey diagram is less helpful decision point alternative endings A B C plot point character detail Exposition
  27. 27. eBook Online Quests Location-based Quests Final event+ eBook holds many answers/clues to the puzzles Detail expanded later in additional documents Roswell quests: visitor gets points AND uncovers clues Clues on social media, blogs, wikipedia etc  User Journey diagrams can easily become confusing. Especially with branching or open stories  Simplicity is always best  Defer complex interactions to lower-layer diagrams
  28. 28. Find the location of the alien landing (e.g. go into store to get grid ref and answer questions) Collect points and get to top of the leaderboard (e.g. upload photos, check-in, tweet, email)Location = story content & unique NEC code Interactive story and choices from characters in Cult and Hunters eBook (web URLs) websites Location storylets
  29. 29.  Shows scenes (possible states) available in relation to linear story (scheduled content)
  30. 30.  Shows how important experience data will be displayed – without the detail of a wireframe diagram
  31. 31.  Shows important experience-related assets & data
  32. 32. The user journey can be divided into six phases:  Setup - this is action to create the starting conditions before the audience experience starts  Registration - the Author decides how (or if) the Audience makes itself know to the experience  Activation - a call-to-action (which maybe at the same time as Registration or later in time)  Play - this is the main body of the experience  Wrap - if the World is to be ended then this stage ensures everything is wrapped up. Setup Registration • Attraction/ Spectacle • Call to action • Data capture • Initial status Activation • (Re)Call to Action • Explanation Play • Structure • Mechanic Wrap • Resolution
  33. 33. Who must approve the content? How will the content be approved? What timescales are required? Are there legal issues regarding the publication of content? Who must sign-off from legal? Who is in charge of the community? What authority do they have? What is the escalation procedure? How are they to deal with problems? What are the procedures for: a. Purchasing merch and/or subscribing to story b. Raising a question or fault c. Who handles questions and faults? Who is in charge and when do they get notified? How is success measured? What measures are to be reports? How frequently?
  34. 34. The Active Story System™ is available on